"It was very, very strange," admits the shy, soft-spoken and charming Robert Pattinson, when asked about his final moments of portraying the character of vampire Edward Cullen in front of the rolling cameras for the very last time. "I still had the same frustration with trying to play it, the entire way through, right up until the last shot. It’s a strange part because, on one hand, a lot of the audience projects their idea of Edward onto him. It doesn’t matter what he is. They want him to be a certain way. Then my instincts to try to play it were to try to find the fallibility in him and the weaknesses. You’re trying to play both these things at the same time and it becomes very strange. You’re trying to play someone who’s seen by a lot of people as this perfect thing, but what is that? That doesn’t mean anything. So, you’re trying to play an archetype on one hand and a character on the other, so I felt insanely frustrated, right up until the last shot, and then it ended.”
Filming the final scene of his tenure as the decidedly passive vampire Edward Cullen (in the fifth Twilight
film installment, Breaking Dawn - Part 2
).was not an all gloomy and anxiety-filled moment for Pattinson and costar Kristen Stewart (his real-life romantic partner). "Actually, it was hilarious, considering we’d spent the entire series filming in the most miserable conditions (in the Pacific Northwest), and then we ended on the beach in the Caribbean, filming for two days in the sea,” he remembers with a huge grin. “That was fun. We literally did the last shot as the sun was coming up in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It was a nice way to end it, because they were considering shooting it in the sea in Vancouver (Canada) – which would not have worked at all."
Ever since fans caught their first glimpse of Pattinson's handsome visage and experienced his quiet, diminutive demeanor in the inaugural Twilight
film, it's been a long, strange and exciting trip for the British-born actor-turned-household name. Twilight
would become a massive, overnight international box office hit and would transform the one-time Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire
ensemble cast member (Cedric Diggory) into a globally worshipped sex symbol and a bonafide Hollywood leading man. Each installment of The Twilight Saga
sequel franchise – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn - Part 1
– has increased both Pattinson’s celebrity status and his popularity among the devoted, obsessed and intensely loyal members of the legendary “Twi-Hard” fan following.
Based on Stephanie Meyer's bestselling Twilight
book series, the novels and films constitute a full-blown cultural phenomenon with a dedicated global fan base that has eagerly awaited each installment. Pattinson, the recipient of several “heart-throb” and “hunk” of the year accommodations, confesses he isn’t quite sure how Twilight
devotees will react to the ending of the cinematic franchise, which for all intents and purposes, also represents the end of an era for the 26-year-old leading man and his costars. On the other hand, Pattinson is keenly aware of his own emotions as the final chapter of Twilight
’s cinematic franchise comes to a close, as the superb Breaking Dawn - Part 2
opens on movie screens across the globe.
"It’s funny, people were asking me how I’d feel when it all ends – even on the first movie – and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more completely bewildered, knowing that I only have a month of Twilight
stuff (interviews and red carpet strolls) left to do,” laments Pattison, who is nattily dressed in a stylish grey suit accented by a classic blue dress shirt. “I’ve said, I think since the second one, that it’s going to take ten years (for all of this) to really settle in my brain, and I’m only four years into it.”
So, how does Pattinson think his millions of fans are really feeling, just about now, as the curtain begins to fall on a Twilight
film for the last time? “I don’t think there is any analysis,” he offers, while scratching his finely-coiffed mop of messy hair. “I don’t think anyone knows why people like it. I don’t think even the fans know why they connect with it the way they do. It’s a visceral thing. I don’t even know if Stephanie (Meyer) could tell you why she was so fixated on this very, very contained story about these very obsessive characters. It’s just an anomaly. That’s a terrible answer, but I don’t know?"
Comfortably nestled with the confines of a posh five-star Beverly Hills hotel – along with his longtime Twilight
cast mates – Pattinson is spending a handful of days (in early November) with members of the world press to discuss his participation in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
– the phenomenal final stitch in the finely-woven Twilight
cinematic tapestry. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Bill Condon (Breaking Dawn - Part 1, Gods and Monsters, Kinsey
), the breathtaking Breaking Dawn - Part 2
illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.
In this final sequel, Bella (Kristen Stewart) awakens transformed – she is now a mother and finally, a vampire. While her immortal husband, Edward (Pattinson), delights in her beauty, speed and uncommon self-control, newborn Bella has never felt more alive. The destiny of her best friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), has become entwined in that of their exceptional half-human, half-vampire daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). The arrival of a creature so rare cements an extended family, but also ignites forces that threaten to destroy them all. With more of the struggle, romance, passion, mystery, and action that has made the previous Twilight
feature films international blockbusters, the nail-biting Breaking Dawn - Part 2
concludes the universally adored tale of love, family, courage, empowerment and destiny.
Having portrayed Edward Cullen over the course of five films, Pattinson still has mixed emotions about bidding his character adieu. "There’s a thing, in general, about doing any kind of series, especially when the characters remain the same, to go back and try to improve whatever you did in the last movie, which never happens,” he explains. “That work ethic is nice. You feel quite strangely secure. It’s the opposite of how you’re supposed to feel doing a movie. It’s supposed to feel totally foreign, every single time. But, going back for another go at it is good, on one hand, but it’s also bad, on another hand. Your ideas dry up sometimes, and you get lazy sometimes because you’re around the same people. That was the good thing about having different directors. You had to stay on your toes. What was the worst thing? Playing the part where you can’t get hurt and you can’t die gives you no framework. There are too many possibilities, if you can’t die. If you’re playing a normal human being, there’s always that."
In the mesmerizing Breaking Dawn - Part 2
, Pattinson had the chance to act with a newborn and a young girl (Mackenzie Foy), who both portray Robert and Bella's daughter, Renesmee. Rob (as he is known to his pals) completely ignored the old Hollywood adage that warns adult actors to avoid, in every circumstance possible, working with scene-stealing children and animals. As Pattinson explains it, he simply doesn’t subscribe to that particular school of thought. "I actually quite like working with kids, and I like working with animals – which everybody says you shouldn’t do,” he confesses. “It makes you feel like you’re not acting, as soon as you have someone who’s providing stuff to react to. Working with a baby is especially great. I would say, ‘Put a baby in every scene. You can put a dog in a scene and everyone’s going to be better, I guarantee it.And if they’re not better, just shoot the dog'... just joking,” he adds with a laugh. “But, it was fun."
While he found it immensely gratifying working on Breaking Dawn - Part 2,
Pattinson admits that if he had the chance to “relive” a particular moment, sequence or time period from any of the Twilight
films, surprisingly, he would go back to the very first motion picture of the franchise. "The whole first movie (Twilight
) was pretty fun,” he fondly remembers. “I had never really done a movie like it, when there’s such a big cast of people that are around about the same age. Everyone didn’t really know what was going to happen with the movie, but there was a good energy. There was something which people were fighting for, in a way. They wanted it to be something special. None of us were really known then, as well. It felt like a big deal, at the time. It was really exciting, doing the first one, and the whole year afterwards was an exciting year, too."
It was during the filming of Twilight
that Pattinson became close friends with costars with Taylor Lautner and (girlfriend) Kristen Stewart. The trio have all endured the pros and cons of becoming cultural icons – together. When asked to recall his first impressions of Stewart and Lautner, Pattinson is more than happy to share his warm memories of his initial meetings with his Twilight
partners-in-crime. "I met Taylor on the movie, I think, when he was wearing his wig and stuff, and I met Kristen at the audition,” he remembers. “At the time, I was still just trying to come to terms with acknowledging myself being an actor – at all. Taylor was like fifteen when I met him. When I did Harry Potter
, I remember looking at Dan (Radcliffe), Rupert (Grint) and Emma (Watson) and being like, 'Those guys are actors.' I was starstruck by them. And, I was starstruck by Taylor and Kristen, when I met them, even though I’d only seen Kristen in a few things. I’ve always had this separation. It’s funny to see people get humanized. With Dan, Rupert and Emma, I still see them as that. I was with them for eleven months, and I still see them as massively famous people. It’s strange to have gone through the same experience with Taylor and Kristen, as well, and to see people retain their sanity, as much as possible. I’ve seen a lot of people have minor amounts of fame and just lose their minds completely, even after a casting announcement, let alone having done a movie. It’s amazing to see that people manage to maintain."
Over the past year, Pattinson and Stewart have been the subject of intense media scrutiny. Almost weekly, the pair could be seen on the covers of both tabloids and mainstream publications with stories about an alleged romantic break-up between the pair due to a supposed incident of infidelity. It has been a harrowing time for both actors, and while Pattinson has always politely made it clear that he doesn’t relish discussing his personal life with the media, he does reveal that he was very much aware of what was being written about the couple. "I read everything about me, which is perhaps my downfall, but I’m the only one who knows what’s true,” he confesses. “If I could get any semblance of, not really anonymity, but control over my public image, that would be nice. But, no, I think it’s impossible to maintain that, for one thing. I don’t think anyone can do that, apart from Denzel Washington.”
Once again, if Pattinson where granted the chance to go back in time – to 2008, to be exact, at the genesis of the Twilight
phenomenon – with the knowledge he has attained over the past half-decade, what kind of advice would he offer to his younger self to prepare him for the entire Twilight
experience that he’s consequently lived through? Pattinson pauses for a few moments of deep reflection before declaring, "I’d tell him to start drinking vodka instead of beer, and try to get a six-pack as early as possible, because you’ll be a much more successful actor,“ he says, followed by a hearty laugh. “I don’t know? It’s fun to deal with the terror and the huge highs and lows of things. We’re still getting massive surprises, anytime there’s any Twilight-related event or anything. I remember with the third movie, when we went to Munich, the entire Olympic stadium was filled with fans. We walked in there and did nothing. There was supposed to be a Q&A, but me, Kristen and Taylor stood in the middle of the Olympic stadium with 30,000 people just screaming for fifteen minutes. It was absolutely bizarre. There’s no way you can ever compute it."
With the Twilight
franchise quickly fading from his proverbial rear-view mirror, at the end of the day, Pattinson reveals he does harbor conflicted feelings about how the series has been labeled by the press and members of the entertainment industry. “After the first Twilight
film, people started referring to it as a franchise, but a franchise is a Burger King or a Subway,” he explains. “It’s not, it’s a movie. The people who start to say it’s a franchise are generally the people who are making money off of it. They love it when something becomes a franchise. But, as an actor, I think it’s scary. You really, really feel like you have no control. It’s a huge juggernaut, especially when something becomes part of the cultural landscape, as well. It’s really scary, because you get trapped and you get scared of changing, which is the worst thing that can happen, if you want to be any kind of artist."
However, the incredible success of each of the Twilight
films has bestowed upon Pattinson the rare, and often elusive, ability of being able to pick and choose the film projects that he really wants to do (Cosmopolis, Bel Ami, Water For Elephants
). In Hollywood speak, Pattinson wields a tremendous amount of A-list clout among his Tinsel Town contemporaries. Although, with future feature films based on the bestselling Twilight
book series now a thing of the past, Pattinson openly admits he isn’t exactly sure what kind of roles he’ll be playing, or what his career will look like, in ten or fifteen years. “People always ask me if I’m afraid of getting typecast, but you can’t be afraid of that,” he says. “It’s really not up to you. I’ve been getting other parts that aren’t vampires. I don’t know if people will accept me in them, or whatever, but there’s really nothing to be afraid of. But, in fifteen years, I have no idea? I don’t know how people will remember this series, if at all. It’s crazy how intense people are. The fan base is still five years on, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last. It would be insane if there’s still the same tenacity in fifteen years.
“It’s a strange place that the film industry is at, right now,” he continues. “You can just play superhero after superhero. That seems to be the only guaranteed big-money thing. It’s not necessarily that satisfying getting monetary success, but sometimes it keeps the door open to make what you want to make. Other times, you can make five massive hits in a row and still not get cast by the directors you want to work with, doing little movies. There are no guarantees. I’m trying to sign up and do movies that I’ll be proud of, as if it’s my last one. That’s how I think about it."
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opens in North American theatres on November 16, 2012. (Check local listings for theaters and show times).